THE KEY TO OUR ENERGY FUTURE
April 26, 2005
Every authoritative energy analysis points to an inescapable imperative: Humankind cannot conceivably achieve a global clean-energy revolution without a rapid expansion of nuclear power to generate electricity, produce hydrogen for tomorrow's vehicles and drive seawater-desalination plants to meet a fast-emerging world water crisis, says John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association.
This reality requires a tenfold increase in nuclear energy during the 21st century. Fortunately, advances in technology and practice can facilitate this expansion by meeting legitimate public concerns, says Ritch:
- Safety: In the two decades since Chernobyl, the global nuclear industry has built an impressive safety record that draws on 12,000 reactor-years of practical experience; a network of active cooperation on operational safety now links every nuclear power reactor worldwide.
- Arms Proliferation: Illicit weapons programs of rogue regimes pose an ever-present risk but strong, universal safeguards can ensure that civil nuclear facilities do not increase that risk; security for the environment and against terrorism need not conflict.
- Cost: Steady reductions in operational and capital costs have already made nuclear energy highly competitive; once governments begin to impose a real price on environmental damage -- through emissions trading or carbon taxes -- the balance will tilt decisively toward nuclear.
- Waste: In truth, waste is nuclear power's greatest comparative asset; unlike carbon emissions, the volume is minimal and can be reliably contained and managed.
Today technology is spurring a growth in world population and energy consumption that jeopardizes the future of our biosphere. Wisely used, modern technology can also be our salvation, says Ritch.
Source: John Ritch, "The Key to Our Energy Future," Washington Post, April 26, 2005.
For text (subscription required):
Browse more articles on Environment Issues